Unification Church of Japan accused of failing to end fraudulent practices

The Unification Church, the religious group of South Korean origin to which the mother of the confessed assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — whom she blamed for bankrupting her family — belongs, would not have carried out reforms to end fraudulent practices to obtain donations, according to lawyers for those affected.

The National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales has explained at a press conference that these problematic practices continue, despite the Unification Church’s claim to the contrary earlier this week, The Japan Times reported.

The Church, questioned on previous occasions for its donation system, has assured that it carried out an internal reform in 2009, when its head admitted several problems in complying with current legislation.

Despite claiming that the group had carried out these reforms, lawyers representing families affected by the Church or those who left the group argue that this statement is false and that the practices on donations continue to this day.

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The Unification Church’s own representative, Tomihiro Tanaka, also acknowledged that the mother of the perpetrator of the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is part of the formation, although he denied pressuring her to make large donations.

Tanaka noted Monday that he did not know to what extent the mother’s donations to the church played a role in the family’s bankruptcy, as the confessed perpetrator of Abe’s assassination, Tetsuya Yamagami, accused the organization of starving them of money.

The families and former members have repeatedly complained about such practices, claiming that they were forced to shell out cash donations, as well as the purchase of art items, to the tune of 331 million (€2.3 million).

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Tetsuya Yamagami, who confessed over the weekend that his first intention was to kill the leader of this group for ruining his family, has indicated that he had planned the attack in advance and acknowledged that he had visited other places where Abe had made speeches during his campaign.

Regarding Abe’s assassination, Tanaka noted that the former prime minister was a figure close to a “friendly group” of the church, which he differentiated from the organization itself, and emphasized that he was never a member or advisor.

The Unification Church, known for its deeply conservative ideas, originated in South Korea and has a large following in Japan. It also has a worldwide following — including former U.S. President Donald Trump — and has a headquarters at the Nara train station where the attack took place.

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